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Humberto Esparza (left) and Jeffrey Leigh take the "citizenship oath" during this year's Back to School Bash at Mooseheart. Both are high school freshman this year.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Project Manager Lindsay Adamzak (left) hands one of 100 backpacks her company provided for Mooseheart's Back to School Bash to one of Mooseheart's elementary schoolchildren.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Patricia Schultz (right) talks with Mooseheart fifth grader Seki Hassan during this year's Back to School Bash at Mooseheart. Houghton Mifflin donated 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to the event.
Mooseheart seventh grader Brianna Casey (left) and eighth grader Kassadi Crowe check the items in one of 100 backpacks donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for this year's Mooseheart Back to School Bash.
Mooseheart fourth grader Nathan Hayden checks the contents of his backpack at the campus' Back to School Event. The backpack, and the supplies in it, were donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Andrew Frank (left) puts baked beans onto his plate during Mooseheart's Back to School Back while EG Barley watches.
MOOSEHEART, IL, Aug. 22 - In a way, Tuesday’s Back to School Bash at Mooseheart encapsulated many of the things that make the campus a special place.
The entire campus, from the youngest children who live at Baby Village to the 31 members of the high school class of 2013, broke bread together on Aug. 21, the evening following the second day of classes in the 100th school year at Mooseheart.
The food was provided by the men and women of the Moose fraternity, who have made Mooseheart a reality in children’s lives since 1913. The entire event was sponsored by Mooseheart, IL Lodge 2655 and Mooseheart, IL Chapter 3001 -- and all proceeds went to Moose Charities, the fraternity’s fundraising corporation for Mooseheart and Moosehaven.
Mooseheart Executive Director Scott Hart said the event raised $1,600.
“Mooseheart is all about providing a safe living environment for our children,” Hart said. “They have fun together, and it’s about building relationships. That’s one of the cornerstones of the Mooseheart Model of Care, relationship building.”
As a Back to School Bash, many of the activities centered around the start of the school year. One of these was to have all new residents take the "citizenship oath." And when those students were introduced, the line seemed to stretch forever. In all, there were nearly 30 new students who took the pledge -- and that represented nearly 15 percent the opening-day enrollment of 200 at the K-12 school.
“It’s a nice way to kick off the year,” Hart said. “The Lodge and Chapter wanted to do something nice to kick off the 2012-13 school year. It gave the new students a chance to feel what it means to be a part of the Mooseheart community, which is something special.”
And the evening was made even more special thanks to donations and volunteers from two area companies - Kohl’s and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
“It’s a very nice night for Mooseheart Child City & School and a chance for some of our corporate partners to be involved,” Hart said. “They get to see the kids and that helps seal their relationships. They can see where their donations are going.”
The Geneva office of Boston-based company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt donated 100 backpacks filled with school supplies. Every single student in Mooseheart's elementary and middle schools received one of these backpacks. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt also brought boxes of books to go into Mooseheart’s library, and into the hands of students. Hart estimated the retail value of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt donations to be around $5,000.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Project Manager Lindsay Adamzak said her company recently launched its Corporate Social Responsibility pillar and that the Mooseheart donation was the first from the Geneva office’s Community Investment Council.
“We wanted to give back to someplace locally, and we’re right down the road,” Adamzak said. “It was literally a five-minute drive when we left our offices to come to Mooseheart for the first time.”
Adamzak said opportunities exist for her company to partner with Mooseheart in the future.
“We felt this was a good start for us in terms of getting as many people on-campus as we could,” she said.
A second outside organization, Kohl’s, helped make the Back to School Bash memorable. Kohl’s had employees from its Batavia and Stratford Square stores at the Back to School Bash to help serve food. For their participation, Moose Charities, will receive a check for $1,000 from Kohl’s. This is in addition to $2,000 received from Kohl’s, whose employees volunteered to help park cars at the recent Carson & Barnes Circus at Mooseheart.
“Kohl’s has been a wonderful partner with us for the last couple of years -- and for them to be willing to come out and serve food and to participate in this is wonderful,” Hart said.
Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.
Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.
Mooseheart is currently home to roughly 220 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.
In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $70 million worth of community service programs annually.